In the U.S., 83,000 people languished on the official kidney transplant line. Registration guidelines permit only one entry per state onto the waiting list. Only 16,500 of these people received a renal transplant in 2008 while nearly 5,000 died waiting for one. In only 9 months of 2009, there were 3,363 deaths of Americans who died while on the kidney transplant list. For those waiting for a liver transplant, 1154 Americans died during the same time interval.
So desperate are some patients to receive kidneys, they are even willing to accept diseased ones as witnessed by 5 patients getting kidneys from known cancer sufferers from the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine. Contracting cancer from diseased organs has been well documented.
The issue of organ demand was highlighted last year when black markets dealing in organ sales from poor tourists became publicized. Indeed, the black market is responsible for almost 10% of the worldwide transplants. The problem of course is that if the donor is illegally selling his organs, then follow-up medical care is non-existent or shoddy at best.
Several countries have adopted or looking to implement a presumed consent system, such as the U.K. where it is assumed that you give consent for organ donation upon your death unless you have physically signed forms to opt out of the program. Although the U.S. does not currently believe in this system, it would work very well considering the number of procrastinators that abound.
Having a legal payment system for organ donation has eliminated organ shortages in Iran. Those who do not have living relatives that are compatible donors and cannot afford to purchase a kidney, are helped to do so from organized charities.
Other countries such as Israel are implementing a system whereby those who choose to opt out of donation systems, are to be put last on the list should they in turn need organ donations themselves later-on.
I propose looking into the following incentives for the U.S.
Keep in mind that it costs our healthcare system significantly more to keep someone on dialysis than to perform a renal transplant.
Give the following incentive for those considering organ donation: free healthcare coverage for donors and their families until the age of Medicare.
By implementing such a plan, you would be addressing healthcare insurance issues, covering more people, contributing to decreasing healthcare costs and decreasing organ shortages concurrently.
Since the benefit is during the person’s lifetime and the donation might be after, significant lines may develop to sign on the bottom line.